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European Commission must react quickly to Council of Europe corruption report

7 Jun 2017

European Commission must react quickly to Council of Europe corruption report

Council of Europe anti-corruption network GRECO today presented the results of the fourth evaluation round in its annual report for 2016. What’s striking about this is the criticism of the European Commission’s lax attitude. Commenting on the report, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said that “for the umpteenth time the Council of Europe” – not an EU body, but an older and broader inter-governmental organisation concerned largely with human rights and related issues – “calls on the Commission to at last do something about these evaluations. It’s depressing that in regard to such matters no progress has been made. The special contribution from European Ombudsman Emily O´Reilly does in one sense fill this gap, but at the same time has pointed out that the EU institutions’ policies on integrity still leave a lot to be desired. It’s unbelievable that the Commission doesn’t take advantage of GRECO and learn from the experiences of national governments. I’m calling on the Commissioner responsible, the Dutch vice-president Frans Timmermans, to shake the proffered hand of the Council of Europe and cooperate actively around GRECO’s evaluations.”

The 4th evaluation round concerned the prevention of corruption amongst MPs, judges and public prosecutors. “In the European Parliament we too have to contend with conflicts of interest, fraud and corruption,” says De Jong. “You don’t see anything about this in the report, because the European Commission refuses to cooperate in reporting on the EU institutions’ policies. While the EU should be setting a good example, the Commission  instead ducks out. That’s impossible to explain to the public. Together with colleagues in the cross-party European Parliament Intergroup on Integrity, I’ve been pushing for ages for the Commission to adopt a more active attitude, but they simply don’t want to know.  We won’t be giving up, however, and along with the European Ombudsman we’ll be stepping up the pressure on Commissioner Timmermans”.

The results from the twenty European countries which participated in the evaluation aren’t very good. “Too often people think that making corruption into a serious criminal offence is enough,” says  De Jong. “The fact that more than three-quarters of GRECO’s recommendations  have either not been carried out at all, or have been inadequately implemented, is bad news. At the EU institutions too it’s necessary to push through strict rules on integrity. The report shows how urgent are these measures, both for the member states and for the EU as a whole. I’ll also be asking the Commission, therefore, to react quickly to GRECO’s recommendations.”

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